Things to think about before you price your artwork for art walks & other festivals
There are many questions to consider when pricing a work of art, therefore, determining the price of your masterpiece can be tricky. Pricing your artwork can be daunting and even emotional for many artists. Time, talent, materials, education, research, marketing, distribution, administration, and promotion must be factored into the cost of each artwork. At the end of the day, the dollar value may amount to what the customer is willing to invest. However, artists must have confidence in the price of their artwork to avoid getting haggled down during a street festival.
You don’t need to sell to be successful
First, you need not sell to be a successful artist. Creating quality-consistent art is the most important value. I believe artists should focus on the research and creation of art. If you are serious about developing your skills and pioneering new art, there may be grants available to help you. Getting positive feedback about your art from fellow artists and the general public is the most rewarding part of any Art Walk.
Creating art is only half the battle
Second, selling art, like selling anything, takes business and marketing skills. Time is a major factor to consider when setting prices. Independent artists, especially those who are selling in the festival circuit, realize that twice as much time is needed to administer, market, and sell the work as to create it in the first place. It is a hard truth, but few people are good at everything. Rather than taking on all the business aspects yourself, a practical option might be to find a gallery to represent you. Professionals will set the market price to suit your art and help you build a following. If this interests you, please read my post on “How to Find a Gallery to Show My Art?” Do not underestimate the value of a good gallery’s investment of time, space, and promotional know-how.
People deserve to be paid for their time
Third, believe people deserve to get paid for their time. There are reasons why the real price of art is 50% to the artist, and 50% to the gallery. Accordingly, consider this when you price your artwork: if you are doing both jobs you deserve to be paid for both jobs.
Price ranges vary greatly at Art Walks. Some people charge more for prints than others do for originals. There is no standardization for pricing art.
You are your own artist, so don’t worry about what other artists are asking for their work. It stands to reason that there might be several reasons why prices can vary; reputation, professional status, popularity with collectors, and even geography — any of these can affect the price of the artwork.
One big caveat!
Please, please, do not price your art cheaper than the IKEA mass-produced posters. Indeed, this makes us a little sad.
Taking advice on how to price your artwork from other artists
After speaking with several artists, we can offer a couple of practical suggestions to help get you started. Try these tips, and experiment until you are comfortable with how you price your artwork.
How much is this artwork?
Try not to price your artwork based on ego or originality. Unfortunately, not everyone can be a (insert your favourite famous artist’s name here). It is always better to start your pricing structure low, allowing your reputation to progress in stages. For example, once you sell 10 paintings raise your price by 20%, and so on. Your patrons will enjoy seeing your art appreciate in value.
Be consistent when you price your artwork
Be consistent with your pricing. Play it cool and don’t get “green eyes” while you are on a good selling streak. Buyers notice this and they will appreciate the consistency.
To make it easy to deal in cash at Art Walk, we suggest rounding price tags up or down to the nearest $20. Do what feels comfortable to you.
Try a formula
Wage, plus materials x 3
(Hourly Wage + Materials) x 3
Time yourself. See how long it takes to create a painting and use it as a tool to determine if this method can work for you. Give yourself a humble fee per hour, add your cost of supplies, then times it all by three. This is just an example – you can make your humble fee whatever you feel is fair for you. Work with the numbers, but whatever you do, feel good about the result.
For example: 12”x16”Canvas $15.00 Paint Usage $ 6.00 Your humble fee $10/hour x 4 hours = $40.00 Subtotal $61.00 Multiply by 3= $183.00 Rounded up to the nearest $50 ($200.00)
Square inch multiplied by factor
This is the most common and easiest way to consistently price your work. Let the canvas be your grid! Determine the price of your art based on the size of the canvas. In this manner, you use a simple pricing structure like a specific cost per square inch. Give yourself a hard-and-fast rule that you charge a specific price per canvas and stick to that price. You can never go wrong with this method, as long as you are comfortable with the resulting prices for the artwork you are producing. *You may choose to round up/down to the nearest $50 for Art Walk sales.
For example: 16″x20″ canvas is 16×20 =320 square inches You charge $.60 per square inch = $192.00*
24×36” canvas is 24×36 = 864 square inches You charge $.60 per square inch = $518.40*
36”x48” canvas is 36×48 = 1728 square inches You charge $.60 per square inch = $1036.80*
Adjust your prices for a range of sizes
If you work in a large range of sizes, a flat fee per square inch may need to be adjusted. Since small canvases could cost too little and large ones would cost too much, consider a sliding scale of different rates for different size ranges:
- sq. in. <= 500, then $.90 /sq. in.
- sq. in. <= 1000, then $.60 /sq. in.
- sq. in. > 1000, then $.50 /sq. in.
Note: Factors vary from .40/sq. in – $5/sq. in.
What is the right factor for you?
Often the first attempt at pricing may seem too low for a year’s work or too high for a single piece. Talk to other artists, visit the websites of local artists, and try not to undersell yourself, but do compare quality, size, and experience.
A good start is to try finding a factor that lands somewhere between the following two statements.
- If I sell all art in the display for X amount (total of all art on display) will I be happy? This is a good reality check since often an exhibition represents a year’s worth of work.
- If I sell nothing for X amount the price of your lowest work will I be happy? This is a good reality check if you think the prices might be too high for your local market.
Keep track of your pricing and keep an inventory
Once you set your prices document them so you can reference them. Use a simple notebook or create a spreadsheet. This becomes the start of your inventory list, which is a good business practice.
Being confident in your pricing will help you, so the next time someone says, “Oh I can’t afford that!” there is no need to haggle. Smile and thank them for their interest.
Kim Fjordbotten: As the owner of The Paint Spot, Kim Fjordbotten is passionate about helping artists use materials and make art. She is available as a speaker and educator for teachers and art associations. The Paint Spot offers exhibitions, classes, and beautiful art materials to inspire your creativity.
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